Charlie Parker Festival – Marcus Garvey Park – August 28, 2010
The usual superiorly-situated amphitheatre in Garvey Park was closed for repair, so the Charlie Parker Festival was moved to a flat area of the lower portion of the park, sparing me the arduous ascent of many dozens of stairs. However, the relocation led to a minor bummer detracting from my enjoyment! Having gotten there early I thought I had chosen a primo seat, fronted by a small fence and an aisle – I would actually be able to stretch out my legs. But that all backfired, as the aisle became a congregating site for the standees, partially or totally obstructing the view. Quelle drag! As a result, the sketching was difficult, and after a while, essentially impossible. To make it worse, the chatty chatty chatties; ain’t you here for the music? Nonetheless, I got some, mostly of the opening “Revive Da Live” group. After the second group (JD Allen, and he burned it up!) I abandoned the good-acoustics-no-see seat to split my time between wandering around to where I could see the stage, and lurking backstage to grab autographs (I didn’t get them all). I had a Jason Moran portrait from 2003 that hadn’t yet been autographed, so I got that signature after his set; it’s a cheat but I’m throwing it in here anyway. Charlie Rangel put in an appearance, so a few enforcers were eyeing me and shooing me slightly away when he swept by. A guy borrowed my pen to get the congressman’s signature, but I was playfully imagining the awkward situation of Rangel noticing and approaching me to sign, and I would have to tell him that I’m here for the musicians’ signatures, sorry. Alas by the time top-billed McCoy Tyner got on I was burnt. He plays the dynamic extremes, and I could hear the loud passages clearly, but the soft stuff was lost, competing with, among other things, the park’s perpetual drum circles. I stayed for a few numbers, my appreciation level diminshed; the wanderings broadened and I eventually ducked.